NFL Playoff Picks: Predicting Straight-Up Winners for Each Divisional Round Game

Alex KayCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 30:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown with Aaron Hernandez in the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Picking NFL playoff games is never easy, and there is no exception for the 2013 divisional round.

There are four great matchups on tap this coming weekend, and each one of them looks to be completely unpredictable. There may be one of the greatest games of all time hidden in the schedule, or perhaps one of the biggest blowouts in postseason history.

The answers are likely somewhere in the middle, and we’re here to help predict the outcome of each contest, so read on for our picks.


DENVER BRONCOS over Baltimore Ravens

Peyton Manning and his surging Broncos simply aren’t losing this one.  

Denver is in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, is fresh off a bye and hungry to advance past the divisional round.

Baltimore, on the other hand, backed into the playoffs and convinced no one it was legitimate by beating up on a lowly Colts team during Wild Card Weekend.

This game might start close, but eventually Manning is going shred the aging Ravens secondary for some massive gains and easy scores.

Predicted Score: Broncos 34 – Ravens 14


Green Bay Packers over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

On paper, this is the best matchup of the weekend and a de facto NFC Championship Game.

Both the Packers and Niners are highly regarded squads that have the tools to beat anyone, anywhere, at any time.

While Green Bay prefers to do its work on the offensive end of the football—using Aaron Rodgers and a deep core of receivers to spread the ball and strike quickly—San Francisco wins games with its defense—led by star linebacker Patrick Willis, elite pass-rusher Aldon Smith and a number of hard-hitting players scattered throughout the unit.

This will be a back-and-forth battle between two teams that play drastically different styles, and the outcome will come down to the last possession.

Predicted Score: Packers 27 – 49ers 24


Seattle Seahawks over ATLANTA FALCONS

Both of these NFC teams have perceived flaws, which is surprising considering the Falcons went 13-3 during the regular season and earned the top seed in the conference.

However, Falcons QB Matt Ryan has never won a playoff game in his short career, and this team always seems to falter when the most is on the line. In Seattle, rookie Russell Wilson has never played in a game with more on the line but recently earned a crucial victory against the ‘Skins to advance.

We’re giving the edge to the Seahawks, as they have turned into one of the most consistently excellent teams in the NFL and may be the surprise representative of the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Predicted Score: Seahawks 21 – Falcons 14


NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS over Houston Texans

This is a rematch of a Week 14 Monday Night Football beatdown in which the Patriots absolutely dominated Houston from the opening kick to the final whistle.

In the weeks since, the Patriots have only gotten better and returned Rob Gronkowski to the lineup, while the Texans have been riddled with questions and poor play.

We believe this will be the most lopsided affair of the divisional round, as New England easily advances to the AFC Championship Game.

Predicted Score: Patriots 35 – Houston 7